Welcome to Marketing 101, brought to you by Spot and Lemur posing for their next album cover! Bet you didn’t know that writing a book was going to include all of these lovely and fun activities, did you? While this is geared toward self-published authors, even traditional publishers have started shunting off the bulk of marketing to the authors, and some require a marketing strategy from the author and the agent. So time to get cracking!
We’re going to kick this series off with ad campaigns and promo packages. Ad campaigns are, as you would expect, campaigns in which ads for your book show up in search results on various platforms. The most commonly recognized campaigns are sponsored ads on Google, but you can buy ad space on Amazon, BookBub, and on social media platforms, just to name a few options.
If you have a marketing budget that allows someone to manage the campaigns for you (Written Word Media is a good one to look at), by all means do the research to find a reputable marketer or agency. Look at consumer reviews, case studies, and have a one on one discussion with the marketer. Be wary of anyone who throws around buzzwords, tries to gloss over the process, or can’t show results through a case study or testimonial from a verifiable source.
If you want to do it yourself, it’s not as scary as it seems. We’ll start with a list of terms you want to know:
- Impressions: how many times your ad is shown
- CPI: cost per impression in which you pay for every thousand times your ad is shown (something that’s rarely done anymore)
- Clicks: how many times your ad is clicked
- CPC: cost per click
- Target audience: the audience you want to view your ads and take action
- CTA: Call to action, or the wording or image you use to get the audience to do what you want (send you a message, click through to your site, sign up for your mailing list, etc.)
- Target Keywords: the words you choose to bid on for your ad to appear; these are broken down into:
- Exact (the exact keyword or keyphrase with no variation); e.g. “witch book series” as an exact keyphrase would have no other words
- Phrase (the keyword or keyphrase is used in the search term, but the term can include other words); e.g. “witch book series” could show results for “book series witch” or “fiction witch book series”
- Broad: (the ad can show for words or phrases similar to yours but that don’t contain the same words or phrasing at all); e.g. “witch book series” can show up for “books about witches”, “witches series”, “witch books”, etc.
Both Amazon and Google give you the ability to search for keywords, the amount of searches they garner, and the estimated CPC bid for higher page placement. Whenever I start a campaign, I do a keyword search, or plan, and bid on the broad terms first. Then after my campaign runs for a week, I look at search terms that triggered my ads and start narrowing my list down into exact and phrase terms. Because I have a smaller budget, I prefer to stick with highly targeted terms so I get more bang for my buck. Checking the keywords that triggered my ad is a good way to discover great terms I may not have thought about or create a negative keyword list– when you identify the terms you don’t want to trigger your ads. Remember, a click costs you money, and if your book doesn’t match what the reader is looking for, then you just paid for a worthless click.
If you’re new to the world of marketing, Amazon has a nifty little feature in which they run your campaign for you, and then after a week or two you can see what search terms triggered your ads, which ones generated clicks, and what terms you want to avoid. They also have great tutorials for using their console, as does Google.
One thing, and I cannot stress this enough, is map out your budget ahead of time! If you only have $100 a month to spend, then that’s $3.33 a day. You can choose a very small campaign in which you bid higher on a few very targeted terms, or you can bid lower on more broad terms. Your bids determine how high you’ll appear on search pages, so plan wisely. If you have a larger budget then try mixing it up. Bid higher on the exact or phrase targeted terms and lower on broad phrases that might catch a reader’s eye. Or vice versa.
BookBub is a little different in that you don’t bid on search terms. You create ad copy for your cover and set a daily budget. You can also choose a target audience. Facebook and Instagram work the same way in which you choose a post, a budget based on how long you want the post to be sponsored, a call to action, and identify your target audience. I use Facebook and Instagram boosted posts for markets, book releases, and whenever I make a post that features any of my merchandise.
If you have a good marketing budget and can drop $300-1000 on a promotional package, then I say do it. There are a lot of really great companies out there who offer one on one guidance and proven results, and often you can bundle in a marketing package. Again, really do your research! I cannot stress that enough!
If you take advantage of free webinars or videos, be prepared to sit through a lot of marketing spiels as to why you should invest in this particular platform or agency. That said, I have gotten some great tidbits from a few webinars. Others… not so much. I have exited out early more than once. So far Christina Kaye from Book Boss Official is my favorite and the person I would probably give my money to if and when I reach the point where I don’t have time to do this myself.
Whether you pay someone to market for you or do it yourself, it costs time and money. Bids fluctuate, and you need to check in on your campaigns on a regular basis. If you have a smaller budget, then don’t spread yourself too thin. Find one or two platforms that work until you can start to branch out. If you do this on your own, then, yes, there are a lot of people willing to teach you what to do for a price, but try the free tutorials and look around on the internet first. After all, your marketing budget is better spent on your books.